2/29/08

Composer of the Day!

Today’s composer of the day is Morton Feldman.

(1926-1987)

He was thick and wore thick glasses, sometimes covered by greasy, brown hair. He had a thick Brooklyn accent.

His music is sun-dappled. He tried out graph notation, but ended up opting for traditional looking scores. Little known, he also made use of serialist procedures. His music is often confused with minimalism, but it never really repeats. The music is very long and very quiet. John Cage was a good friend. So was Mark Rothko.

Here’s a link to his cool piece, For Stephan Wolpe (you’ll need realPlayer to listen to it; there’s a download link on the page, if you need it). It’s about thirty minutes long, but well worth your time.

Here is an excerpt from an interview with Fred Orton and Gavin Bryars, taken from Morton Feldman Says, edited by Chris Villars, who also runs a website devoted to Morton Feldman stuff.

Fred Orton: You once referred to the ‘terror’ inherent in the teachings of Boulez and Stockhausen.

Morton Feldman: Yes. The terror is that you have to have an idea, while with me my ideas came out of the piece. ‘Idea’ became the new myth for that old word ‘inspiration’. If I was going to wait for an idea to write a piece I’d go out of my mind, I’d commit suicide. But it’s a very important terror that the piece has to be good, that it has to make sense, that it has to go somewhere, it has to exploit the materials, you have to use up its potential, it has to feed on itself, that it has to be something.

In his essay, called The Future of Local Music, Feldman sums up his position on many things.

IX. There is a marvelous story about Duchamp and an art student in San Francisco many years ago. Duchamp goes to this art school and he sees this kind of tough, macho San Francisco painter and Duchamp looks at this picture he doesn’t know. He says to the fellow, “What are you doing?” And the painter says, “I don’t know what the fuck I’m doing.” Duchamp pats him on the back and says, “Keep up the good work!”

You should listen to his music. Seriously.
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3 comments:

Aaron said...

That's an awesome story. I don't know what the fuck I'm doing either, but I fully intend to keep doing it.

AnthonyS said...

Great choice. Feldman rocks. In an understated, subtly beautiful way, of course.

Sator Arepo said...

Great post. Been waiting for this one! Stay tuned, readers, monumental John Cage Composer of the Day! forthcoming. "But When?" you say. Ahaha, that is for me to blog and you to find out.

Suckers.

Seriously though, thanks for reading.

Whee,
S. Arepo